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Evil Dead Rise (2023)

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I re-watched Lee Cronin's The Hole In The Ground yesterday in preparation for his latest offering, Evil Dead Rise, today. Not too long ago I was harping on about the sanitised Hollywood version of Horror that doesn't begin to understand the genre in which it sits. For every Scream and Halloween these days, you also have to be thankful that their bastard hybrid second cousins like Evil Dead and Hellraiser are still, well, raising hell, if you'll pardon the pun. And do it so much better, every damn time.

So given Cronin's form, I was expecting quite a bit from the man, with his bigger budget and access to both Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi as producers. I watched the first Evil Dead, a pirated copy from the local newsagent, at the tender age of thirteen in 1982, a 'video nasty' that you couldn't get to see anywhere else at the time. And with good reason, I believed. From what I could see over the cushion I was mostly hiding behind, my love of horror was born. Graphic and comic, blood and frenzy.


Things have inevitably moved on from those innocent days of long hot summers, playing football in the street and chasing girls that I wouldn't have known what to do with, even if I had caught them and today's incarnation of one of the most personally beloved franchises has moved on with it. If you don't count the chainsaw.


Leaving the malevolent woods and cabins behind, carnage here begins and ends at home, in an apartment block, during the fallout of an earthquake that uncovers a vault, in which quietly sits our old favourite bedtime story, bound in human flesh and bone, The Book of the Dead. Okay, we've got the book and the chainsaw, now if someone can just tape a camera to a long plank of wood and run about a bit. Yep, got that too. The nods are appreciated, timely and ironically, a little sentimental.


Suitably graphic by today's rather woke standards, Cronin is clearly a long-time fan and brings his apparent inbuilt foreboding with him to this. Cinema lovers will spot the silently delivered honourable mentions to others, but sadly, unless I missed it in the savage bloodletting, no Farewell To Arms. Wuthering Heights will just have to do.


Predictable in the form of I knew who would still be alive by the end and not so dissimilar to its forefathers that you can rightly place it in amongst the others in the series without too much argument from anyone. Being in the woods in the middle of nowhere still feels more desperate than just stuck in a building when the elevators don't work and you have no signal to call for help, so the frantic mayhem doesn't maybe feel as urgent as it may have with a more remote location.

The performances are all fine, but we never once get close to Bruce going completely batshit loopy by events surrounding him, until maybe right near the finish, just as closure is approaching. In all, I had a blast with this and I'm happy to say it delivered on everything I expected. If you don't mind messy and scenes that will genuinely make you wince, then this could be the real horror for you, after more than enough charlatans recently.



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